I'm 43 years old. I'm a Disney fanatic.... seriously, a freak about Disney!
I also have a mental illness. I have suffered from depression on and off for 30 years. Currently I am on disability for what has now been diagnosed as bipolar II. It's been not quite 15 years since I last worked. I was a social worker and one who was seriously burnt out at that. I have a degree in psychology. I switched over to working in HR for the same agency for the last 6 months, hoping I could keep up my pace. I was referred to a psychologist and it was shortly after that when I took the HR job. That was when I wound up in a psych ward for the first time. To be clear, it was voluntary. I wasn't tied down to the table and fed drugs and given IVs with all sorts of funky juices in them. That, my friends, is the movie version of a psych ward/hospital.
Having been on dozens of meds and even more combos, I was running out of options. So, I have had close to 80 ECT treatments (you may know it as shock therapy/treatment). The first 7 kept me out of the hospital for 4 years after annual hospitalizations. When I started to get really sick again, my therapist suggested I have a consult with another hospital which offers ECT. The psychiatrist refused to do it, saying I had borderline personality disorder. A few years later, after more meds, combos and hospitalizations, I went back to that same hospital and had another consult with the exact same psychiatrist. He approved me for the treatment. While I was inpatient, I did 3 treatments each week. Outpatient I was able to do 1. The doc would have preferred more, but I had no ride the other days. I was receiving what is known as "bilateral" and was at the maximum "dose."
In 2013 I wound up in the hospital medically and had to cancel my scheduled treatment. It gave me pause and I decided that the negative effects outweighed any benefit I was still receiving. My last treatment was December, 2012. It's hard to separate out what symptoms are from the depression and which are due to the ECT, plus I have a bunch of medical problems, including a stroke. There is no knowing. What is medical? Psychological? ECT-based?
My memory loss is significant, but like I said, what is the cause? My therapist told me that the benefits of the ECT would be short-lived, but I kept plugging along. Then I made that decision. I had reached the point where it was time to move along in my treatment. My treatment team was excited about the decision, but as much for the fact that I made it and there was no doctor telling me to stop.
It's hard to decide when to tell someone about mental illness and ECT - both have such stigma. The way I see it, if everyone keeps quiet, the stigma will remain. It's ok for people to ask questions because that's the way the word will get out that it's nothing like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. I welcome questions about my illness and my treatments. I would prefer people educate themselves than make ignorant decisions. After all of my treatments and a dozen hospitalizations, I've gotten somewhat vocal. I mean, when push comes to shove there aren't a lot of explanations for my not working since I appear healthy - and am incredibly good at pretending I'm fine, putting on "the mask" and whatever else you want to call it.
<--- That's my love.
We have 2 cats and 2 dogs, all rescues.
The kitties are siblings. We went to adopt one but couldn't bear the thought of leaving the other one, especially knowing how people are ignorant and won't adopt black kitties because of some silly superstition.
One all-encompassing part of our lives is that we are born-again Christians. Fear not, I won't be sending subliminal messages or preaching at you, so please don't give up on my blog for that. We have a very strong faith and have recently begun a new journey with a new church family (after our former church dissolved). We attempt to keep our lives Christ-centered in what we do, but are awful sinners and fail at every turn. We try and that's all He asks of us.
Ok, so, my hubby is a computer systems engineer (with a chemistry degree - smarty pants), although I prefer to call him a computer geek. It covers all bases. He is such a blessing here at home. Since I am too sick to work, he does so much around here. If we had laundry on the same floor as where we dirty the darn stuff, I could pick up that chore (most of the time). We'd love to get a ranch style home, but now just isn't the time.
I was a social worker, which covers a load of jobs. For me, with my degree in psychology I first worked in a group home with 12 adults suffering from mental illness - sort of ironic, right? I still have incredibly fond memories of many of those incredible men and women. I credit one woman with helping me lose 40 lbs before my wedding. She was on my caseload and one of her goals was to walk every day. My daily time with her was spent joining her on those walks. Another man was in a military academy when he got sick and had to end his hopes of being in the service. The list could go on. They were so special to me. Heck, they even threw me a surprise bridal shower. Extraordinary! My next job was working with adults with developmental disabilities (I think there is now a new name, but that's what it was called when I worked) who were living with host families. I put a lot of miles on my car and loved my clients and most of the families. It all took a lot out of me. The final 6 months of my employment with them was working as an HR coordinator. It took off the pressures of one position, but added having to learn an entirely new and unfamiliar field. You know what happened after that.
I spent ages 2-16 as a dancer. First was ballet and at age 10 (?) I added in jazz. My hope was to go to Julliard (ok, let's make that a dream... a far off dream), but those hopes were dashed when, after many, many injuries, I broke my knee and needed surgery. I was told any further dancing would be out of the question. I also played violin, starting in 3rd grade and through the first year of college. I also played clarinet, starting (late) just before 7th grade and all the way through college. In high school there was marching band and concert band and at the time, if you were in one, you were in the other. It was very time-consuming. The Fall held football games weekly and practice two weeks a night, plus competitions for all of October and some other weeks. I was able to participate in the Miss America parade one year and my senior year we marched in the 3:00 parade in Disney World!!!! It was like a dream come true. We went to competitions annually, including Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, and Toronto. High school orchestra was small, but I do remember us going to a competition in Toronto (because it was the week after the band one!). In college, it was simply concert band and we did one performance at the end of each semester. College orchestra consisted of basically a quartet or sometimes a quintet, depending on who showed up. It wasn't worth it for me, so I left it go.
As you can see, music is an enormous part of my life. It is also for the mister. He is a drummer. We lived in neighboring towns and our football teams competed, as did we compete as bands each weekend. We were on the same fields a lot and never even knew it! We actually met at a Hallmark shop. I started working there when I was 18. He was an established employee. We worked there until we got married. After about 6 months of that we couldn't take so much togetherness and decided we'd stop working at the shop. I'm still partial to Hallmark cards, though ;)
Hub and I love to travel. It's not only Disney, although Disney World and Disney Cruise Line are our favorites, we enjoy doing most travelling. Keith grew up going to Ocean City, NJ every year and we kept that up for a bit. We'll now go down for a day, maybe his birthday. This past summer we were financially forced to re-schedule our Disney cruise and went to Ocean City, MD and loved it! We had been there once before but this experience was different - not better or worse, just different. Now, it was Cycle Week - and no, it wasn't bicycles. It was LOUD down there and we'd certainly chose another week to go. We went down to the barrier islands several times and were able to see a bunch of wild ponies. That was pretty incredible. We're headed on another cruise to Bermuda soon and are headed to Alaska on Disney Cruise Line later this year. Like I said, we LOVE to travel!
I'm pretty sure this is long enough without me blabbering on and on about stuff - I'm sure I'll keep doing that as time goes by. For now, if you made it through this, thank you!